1. FC Union Berlin suffered a 1-3 defeat to Augsburg on the first game of the new Bundesliga season at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei
Marius Bülter pulled Urs Fischer's team all square with 15 minutes left following Ruben Vargas' first-half opener for Augsburg. But the visitors capitalised on late opportunities to take all three points with goals from Michael Gregoritsch and substitute Andre Hahn.
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Trimmel, Knoche, Friedrich, Lenz (Gießelmann 86); Gentner (Griesbeck 25), Andrich, Prömel (Teuchert 71); Bülter, Ingvartsen (Mees 86), Becker (Kruse 71)
Augsburg: Gikiewicz; Framberger, Iago, Gouweleeuw, Uduokhai; Gruezo (Oxford 86), Khedira; Caligiuri (Jensen 86), Vargas (Hahn 76), Gregoritsch (Strobl 89); Niederlechner (Finnbogason 76)
Union’s team for the opening game of the league campaign featured three new faces from the dramatic German Cup win in Karlsruhe, a week ago. Cedric Teuchert dropped to the bench and in came Sheraldo Becker to join the attack. Robert Andrich replaced Nico Schlotterbeck, while Christopher Lenz was favoured instead of Niko Gießelmann. The opposition ranks this afternoon featured a familiar face: promotion-winning goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz who signed for Heiko Herrlich’s side this summer. The popular Polish goalie was given a warm reception during the warm-ups from the 4,500-or-so supporters inside the ground.
Normal matchdays would see 22,012 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei but in accordance with the legal measures in Berlin, a capacity of 5,000 was permitted for the season opener. The crowd made it a boisterous start to the game and it encouraged the players to be more proactive in attack. After 18 minutes, Christopher Trimmel picked out Marcus Ingvartsen but the Danish U21 international shot wide of the target. In fine form during pre-season with a double against 1. FC Nürnberg, Ingvartsen was handed a difficult job as the central striker following the departure this week of top goalscorer Sebastian Andersson to Bundesliga rivals 1. FC Köln. The experienced Christian Gentner took a Knick after 25 minutes and was replaced in a straight swap by Sebastian Griesbeck. Hard work and team spirit epitomised the first-half performance without Union able to put Gikiewicz under pressure. With five minutes left of the half, Augsburg landed a lucky punch with Ruben Vargas sneaking in behind to score past Andreas Luthe.
Bülter started the half on a positive note and was a few inches off target with a long-range shot. Max Kruse and Cedric Teuchert were introduced to stimulate the attacking play and within a few minutes, Fischer's side kicked into life. Christopher Lenz hit the byline and delivered a teasing cross into the area and Bülter swept the ball past Gikiewicz. From there, Union enjoyed their best and most incisive period of play in the 90. Lenz forced a good save out of the former Union goalkeeper before he came shortly to Augsburg's rescue. At the other end, Gregoritsch got between the Union defenders and headed the visitors into the lead with eight minutes to go. Union responded but Gikiewicz's quick reactions kept out a header from Robert Andrich. Niko Gießelmann and Joshua Mees were tasked with a final push forward but a defensive mistake allowed Andre Hahn the time to slot past Luthe and put the contest beyond doubt.
After the first weekend of action in the Bundesliga, Fischer's squad will return to training this week and will prepare for next weekend's away match at Borussia Mönchengladbach,